A Little of History
The Museum is located in the original installations of the steam locomotive depot of Vilanova i la Geltrú, some railway constructions done between the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.
In September 1972, the 19th Congress of European Railroad Modelers (MOROP) was held as an exhibition of steam locomotives in the warehouse, which had been previously closed in 1967.
When the Congress was held, the vehicles were separated and the buildings were closed until 1980, when the various public institutions involved (RENFE, Generalitat de Catalunya and Vilanova i la Geltrú Town Council) were interested in the creation of a Railway Museum in Catalonia, which opened its doors back in 1990.
In 1992 the Foundation of the Spanish Railroads took charge of the equipment of Vilanova.
We have more than fifty vehicles of all kinds: numerous electric locomotives, diesel and passenger cars of various types, including the complete composition of the Centenary Train, a replica of the first train that circulated Iberian Peninsula in 1848, and the first Talgo underway.
We have been part of the network of Technique Museums of Catalonia since 1996 included on the Museum of Science and Technique of Catalonia System.
THE INDUSTRIAL RAILWAY HERITAGE
The development of the Spanish railways is a quite interesting history. Did you know, for example, that the first Spanish railway was on Cuba? No? Well, it is true! This and some more interesting facts about the railway history in Spain can be found here. To show the different speed of development in the various countries, the British history is also mentioned.
To get more information about the date you are interested in, just click on it!
Conservation of heritage in Spain is managed by the Ministry of Culture through the Spanish Cultural Heritage Institute (IPCE) in which the National Industrial Heritage Plan is included. In this Plan some elements and railway engineering works such as viaducts, bridges and tunnels are mentioned and also other forms of transport which are also industrial railway heritage in the territory, but not specifically Railway Museum collections.
The railway has been for decades the reference in transport modes and its evolution has had a notable visual impact on the landscape and ways of life in contemporary society. The legacy of the train can explain and contextualize the lives of most people since the mid-nineteenth century. The identification, selection, storage and inventory of railway heritage are complex because of the uniqueness of their property and the large number of elements to be conserved. Different things such as typologies, nature and territorial roots have to be considered. Vehicles from different eras, buildings, infrastructure and sets for example stations, workshops or warehouses are joined to documentaries or they are intangible assets. It is required to protect the solid and uniform criteria of movable and immovable elements to safeguard them for the use and the benefit of today’s citizens and future generations.
It is important to improve the social and institutional awareness of the value to boost existing projects and undertaking new ones. In Madrid there the headquarter of the Spanish Railways Foundation is placed, a group is working with special heritage centers, collections and territorial projects to articulate a coherent and complete address of the general railroad history. In Catalonia there is also a working group to bring all rail stakeholders, including the railway museums, together. They are working to enhance the visibility of the heritage in monthly meetings.
Conservation at the Catalonia Railway Museum
In the field of conservation, the Catalonia Railway museum, is assisted by an association of volunteers called SiC (partners and collaborators of the Museum). The association consist out of people working voluntarily to offer their unpaid work in different areas of action:
- Conservation: they founded a specific group of volunteers who are responsible for the restoration of the heritage pieces kept by the museum.
- Promotion: they help to promote the museum in the geographical region by creating brochures
- Activities: they help to carry out activities in the museum on special dates with a high numbers of visitors and special events in order to optimize the offered service
- Documentation: they help to organize the library, documentation issues and research.
Know more about the conservation task on this video.